4 drivers on how to fix fatigue laws
WITH only days remaining until the National Transport Commission's deadline for ideas on how to improve fatigue management in the HVNL, there were just 16 submissions on file.
Here are a few edited extracts from a handful of the smaller operators who took the time to go through the 56-page discussion paper and submit their views at www.ntc.gov.au.
Tony Roy (Independent operator)
"THE mandatory Night Breaks in any 14-day period, discriminate against drivers who perform night only work. This rule impacts my ability to earn a reasonable living.
"When I incorporate day time work to support my income, it changes my body clock and has a greater negative impact on my overall fatigue levels.
"My regular truck is fitted with a proper climate-controlled sleeper berth, hence I achieve a high quality sleep. Accompanied with consistent work patterns, my fatigue has been managed well.
"When the HVNL imposed these night breaks rules, the overall impact to my fatigue has been severe.
"The constant flipping of my body clock affects my mental health.
"Provided my sleep quality is high and I have the minimum required number of hours, the work diary should not dictate when I work...
"If the sleep experts believe these rules are suitable, perhaps they should try living by them.
"The current fatigue regime doesn't take into account the "power nap". The power nap extends your fatigue limits. When the rules command the driver takes a seven-hour break, often the driver is not tired after an earlier power nap. So, productivity is wasted on waiting or achieving only several hours of sleep at the end of the 7hr period.
"Sleep experts around world have identified 4 types of sleep patterns. The HVNL only recognises one type. Rule 255, the split break needs to be expanded and made available to all work options.
"The spilt break solves a number of things by allowing drivers to balance productivity and personal fatigue requirements. It then become multi-fit, not one size fits all.
"It would solve the issue of drivers wasting time on day one, only to create a longer shift the following day...It would assist drivers by not creating a situation where drivers must make certain waypoints late at night, in order to meet schedules for the following day.
"Most importantly, I believe drivers will be able to work when awake and sleep when tired, without breaching fixed regulations if the split break was a standard option."
Mark Davies (MC driver)
"AS a driver I would like to see some regulations on turn around times, for example a guide line on maximum wait time, all to often you would complete a 14 drive + breaks to arrive at 3am with instructions from yesterday as to a 10hr +or - lay over, only to find out after your eight hours sleep that your likely to be waiting more like 16 or even up to 20 hours, as you can imagine they still want the freight there in 16 hours, but now you're fatigue is all ready impacted before you start and this follows through out the week now.
"I would like to see at minimum departure times to be regulated to with in a reasonable margin either side of your previous departure time or with in limits if on less than 14 hour destinations."
Trevor Warner (Driver's advocate)
"Re: scrap the night rest break requirements: Truck drivers only work when the schedulers allocate work. The rule always was 12 hrs work, 2hrs non driving work.
"Now schedulers can schedule 14 hours work. Loading and Unloading is additional work. So we are now seeing schedules of 17 hour, because the drivers can be lawfully resting at times and this is not recorded in work diaries. Drivers can also be allocated a split shift to meet freight appointments, which may total 17 hours.
"Resting is NOT sleeping. This rest time can be a power-nap, then this impacts the driver later. Resulting in drivers being out of work time, but not tired for your scheduled seven hour sleep, before reloading for the next shift.
"The boss then says, you shouldn't be tired, you just had a seven hour break.
"Additionally, many drivers do loading and unloading activities unpaid. The Relevant Modern Award allows this loophole to exist. Therefore schedulers exploit this loophole and have drivers essentially "on-call" but lawfully resting.
"I have tried to convince drivers that a 20 hourday is unlawfully scheduled and this practice is unsafe.. If witnesses won't speak up, what else can you do?
"Control the schedulers NOT the drivers.
"Schedulers to be restricted to setting 12hr schedules.
"Whilst the current rules have achieved the goal of no more 48hr shifts and most drivers are sleeping each 24 hour period. The strict prescriptive nature of the HVNL has created problems with stress and mental health, along with increasing fatigue in certain circumstances.
"My recommendations come from 15 years of incident free, Long Distance driving (three million kms) in high risk sectors of Overnight express, fresh produce and cold chain supply, with 10years of local area driving.
"I have been vocal about NHVL problems since 2008 and These recommendations would greatly reduce, if not totally solve the stress of balancing freight demands and current HVNL rules, so I could complete the tasks required with the most flexibility possible.
"Having been on Transport Industry social media for many years, my submission would reflect most flexibility issues drivers have complained about.
Wayne Tomkins (Long distance driver)
"THE creation of the National Heavy Vehicle Law in many ways is a duplication of existing laws.
"Chapter 6 of the NHVL duplicates what is already legislated in various state Workplace laws.
"Speeding" and "driving while Fatigued" is covered by the Australian Road Rules.
"My view comes from a heavy vehicle driver's perspective, where I have 40 years of experience is in the areas of Fresh Produce, Overnight Express and interstate food supply chains. All high risk and requires 24/7 scheduling, with shifts mostly divided by 7-8hr sleep period and always covering 72-84 hrs per week.
"The NHVL has only achieved one outcome for me, and that is to force schedulers to comply with existing Workplace laws. Ie 14hr max. shifts. Meal and rest breaks are covered by the same Workplace laws.
"The NHVL failed to address an ongoing major Fatigue causing event in the Transport Industry.
"A regulated heavy vehicle driver can work a regular job during the day and then do night work in a heavy vehicle.
"Additionally, a scheduler can hold a driver on-call for hours even before commencing a long distance journey. It was not uncommon for drivers to wait at truck stops for 8-10 hours while fully rested and then to commence a 12-14 hour shift. Meanwhile the work diary is fully complaint.
"I believe a solution is to repeal Chapter 6 of the NHVL 2012 and simply amend the current "Workplace laws surrounding work hours to state minimum sleep period of 7 hours or a split break (NHVL rule 255).
"Enforcement of the Workplace laws would then bring truck accidents into the realm of "workplace incidents" and investigated to reveal the true cause and parties responsible.
"New drivers into the transport industry need to be trained on low risk tasks, before allowed to engage in high risk tasks, i.e. overnight express.
"I suggest there be a graduated fatigue management system, where new driver, 0-2years be restricted to a 12 hour daytime shift, 2-5year experience to a 14 hour open shift. Experienced drivers with five years and upwards to a 16 hour open shift.
"All with the ability to have a Split Break as a standard option....Rule 255 has been very effective in my experiences.
"I see the necessity for some form of work diary to record sleep/rest periods only. Without some form of work diary, schedulers may return to pushing drivers and demanding unrealistic work time.
"However, the penalties currently listed involve a "commercial advantage" component... The NHVL failed to address a driver on personal, non-commercial time being subjected to the same penalties, just for the choice of vehicle driven during a non-commercial activity
"This factor is a nonsense when prescribing penalties."